First came the announcement that the Tanzanian government had bought two brand-new Bombardier Q400NG aircraft for its national airline. Then news hit the headlines that two top managers got themselves suspended before the CEO job was advertised in the local media. And now, following yesterday’s revelation of the first of the new aircraft being painted in the Air Tanzania livery, news emerged that yet more jobs are available as the previously almost moribund carrier undergoes a revival.
The airline seeks to recruit qualified engineering staff with type licenses for the Q400 turboprop, as well as pilots and cabin crew, all with relevant experience on this aircraft type.
It is now all but obvious that the government of President John Magufuli is committed to give Air Tanzania another chance, hopefully well advised over the risks of the aviation industry, where all three of the major airlines – Fastjet Tanzania, Precision Air – and of course Air Tanzania itself, have been writing red bottom lines on their balance sheets.
It is not known at this stage to what extent the Tanzanian government will be paying up outstanding debts of Air Tanzania which were incurred by former managers whose decisions often cost the company billions of Tanzania shillings and left it saddled with debt.
Aviation sources in Dar es Salaam close to the two other major airlines were, for a change, cautious in expressing their opinions with one saying: “I think the main target for market shares of the revived ATCL will be Precision Air, because it is obvious that a 3 aircraft turboprop operation will not go head on with jet airline, Fastjet. Those have their market wrapped up, and if Air Tanzania sticks to those aircraft types and does not make the same mistake Precision’s former CEO made, they can even survive.”
The reference was in regard to Precision’s entry into jet operations several years ago which failed to make an impact on the routes where the B737 was deployed, and ended the company in a deep financial hole that the present management is still struggling to get out of.
The other source then added: “If the government succeeds in making Air Tanzania viable again, they might then even find a strategic investor, as long as they can clip the wings of the unions which have been a millstone around the company’s neck. Of course all depends on the quality of the CEO they are now recruiting and the team that person can put together. If he or she relies on the old guard sooner rather than later, they will face the same problems. They get new aircraft, they also deserve to get a new team from top to bottom to make it a commercial success, because after all, this is my tax money we are talking about.”